Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Indian Judicial System CHESTized

Human chest is a very handy thing…and please don’t get me wrong for I am only referring to some well known but least understood uses of human chest. Biology teaches us that we all have a chest…that it is held in shape by a rib cage which also houses our heart…so on and so forth.

Really?

Not if one goes by the way our justice delivery system works! For the Indian judicial system, Chest is the sole prerogative of the rich and the well connected. Ordinary people just don’t have it. Which is why almost all the financially well off scamsters and networkers seldom get to stay in jail even after being arrested for the most heinous crimes, including looting public money. They invariably complain of chest pain and land up in comfy confines of a hospital – usually an expensive five star types. The chest pain continues till their lawyers and well wishers pull strings to get them bail.

And this brings us to another chest – the currency chest. Yes, the same one which several court judges are alleged to have been caught stacking with crisp papers embossed with Gandhiji’s face.

And it is these two chests that form the foundation of our justice delivery system, leave aside a few pathbreaking ‘Chest Free’ pronouncements from the haloed portals of the Supreme Court and a handful of High Courts.

Which brings me to the case of Binayak Sen, by now a well known `seditionist’ if a Chhatisgarh court has to be believed. Lot of people seem to have been heartbroken (the non-chest types, I guess) by the news of Dr. Sen being denied bail by Chhatisgarh High Court who continues to stay behind real bars.

Why – the answer lies in the chest doctrine.

Also, a perusal of quality of judgments emanating from our High Courts would indicate that High Courts situated in states ruled by party(s) of a particular flag hoisting `nationalist’ ideology have seldom passed orders that’ll displease the ruling dispensation. That could explain why victims of one of the most infamous communal riot cases had to approach the Supreme Court to shift their cases outside the state. And the Supreme Court, in several instances has aceepted such pleas and shifted hearings to courts in neighbouring states for a `fair’ trial.

To me, this is a clear admission of inability of judges to work independently, either due to their own limitations or threats to their personal safety by overzealously `patriotic’ hoodlums or both. Remember how Pakistan Supreme Court behaved while Musharaf was in power and the kind of laws & amendments it approved of. And how the same Supreme Court of Pakistan suddenly grew a spine after Musharraf’s ouster. I know, many patriotic Indians despise the idea of being compared to Pakistan. But one can’t help but compare as the quality of justice and courts’ objectivity in both the countries seems to be a function of the ideological and administrative environment in which they work.

So, in addition to magistrates and judges being financially, morally and ethically corrupt, fear and flattery (towards those at the helm of affairs) too seem to play a role. Chhatisgarh government’s antipathy towards the likes of Binayak Sen is well known to all, including the magistrates and the judges who heard his case. And thus, the chances of him getting any relief from their courts are bleak.

So while our justice delivery system scans defendants for their chests, is their any way we can install high-res MRI Spine Scanners right at the entrance of corridors leading to the judges’ chambers?